Marcos Garcia Is a Parent, Teacher, and Woodworker?

Marcos+Garcia+likes+seeing++his+students+try+out+their+ideas.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Marcos Garcia Is a Parent, Teacher, and Woodworker?

Marcos Garcia likes seeing  his students try out their ideas.

Marcos Garcia likes seeing his students try out their ideas.

Marcos Garcia likes seeing his students try out their ideas.

Marcos Garcia likes seeing his students try out their ideas.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Marcos Garcia did not want to do this interview. At least very much. After he wrapped up a discussion with one of his bright-eyed freshman English students at his corner classroom in Library 205, he asked what exactly an interview would entail. I told him that first I would have to observe him in action, preferably during one of his classes during D/E blocks. Marcos asked me what would come next. “Now that you have agreed to the interview, we need to schedule an interview,” I said. I should have known better than to think I could have talked to the man who teaches a class on persuasion into an interview this way. Very quickly: “Oh, I didn’t realize I had agreed.”

Slightly razzled by his calling my bluff, I asked Marcos more decisively whether he could agree to be interviewed. Leaning back in his chair, overlooking a desk populated with the usual ephemera of an English teacher (Macbook, Coffee Thermos, various papers in need of grading), and a classroom decorated liberally with posters about Shakespeare and grammar, he tentatively agreed to go ahead.

Third-year MA English teacher Marcos Garcia, much to the surprise of anyone who has seen him in literary-knowledge-dispensing action as a teacher of English 1, did not always want to teach high schoolers about grammar and literature. In a childhood spent alternately in Utah and Colorado, he was always “academically strong” but excelled most at math and science: “And so I started college as an engineering major. And then [I] never thought I was that great at English and you’re like, I was forced to take an English class in college and I really liked it but I didn’t think I was that great at it. And then I had some really good teachers and found a way to apply myself and like then that became the thing.”

You can feel Marcos’ driving curiosity as he teaches his graphic novel elective course to a class full of second semester seniors, fidgeting unconsciously with a whiteboard marker in one hand and flipping through pages of a comic with his other, fielding questions, goading his students to make theories of their own, expressing his enthusiasm with his arms, scrawling everything on the whiteboard in moderately legible script. Evidence of the effect Marcos’ attitude had on the class he teaching: the audience of burnt out seniors all had their books open, were following along, and with a silence that, if not an indicator of being fully tuned in at the very least suggested that they respected him enough to not cause distractions.

When I interviewed him, Marcos was clad in the same blue jeans and unembellished grey henley with the top few buttons undone and sleeves rolled up that he was wearing earlier in the day when I had observed his Graphic Novel class. As I entered the room he stood up from a seat facing the wall and a half-eaten plate of food, and after a brief moment of uncertainty on my part, urged me to sit down in the large padded grey armless chairs at the other side of his office. I asked him how he was feeling about the interview and he said “good.” While perhaps it is true that he said this to reassure me, his voice conveyed a certainty that suggested a bit of change of heart, that he had grown more comfortable with what only a few days ago had seemed alien and uncomfortable.

Marcos Garcia is the son of a carpenter. He is the grandson of a carpenter. He has taken up woodworking. In his mind, the relationship between these facts is not as causal as you would think. The woodworking started because “my wife is an artist and she has a really great studio  in Oakland and whenever I go down there and I’m hanging out with her, I’m just surrounded by people who were making really cool things, you know, and I think I just got jealous of people making really cool, like I want to make cool stuff and like it was a really cool space.” A bizarre hobby? Perhaps. But also indicative of someone willing to experiment, to do what they want, even if they are not so masterful at it. And this spirit connects back to that initial risk of his, to abandon engineering in pursuit of English: “Ever since if there’s something that I think is cool, but I don’t think I’d be very good at, I like to spend some time, not trying to be good at it. Even just trying to understand it a little bit better.”

Marcos’ greatest risk-taking venture into uncharted territory: becoming a father: “I think a lot of it is what you would expect,” that the “like 100 movies about what it’s like” aren’t far off: “yeah, it’s a profound experience and it’s tough and makes you think about when you were a kid and your own growing up and all of that. And so all of that stuff is true.”

As for what surprised him about being a father: the anxiety it induces. He said that he used to never be an anxious sort of person, but parenthood has racked him with worry. In his view, this is both a universal sort of fatherly concern, and one particularly acute now: “people really worry a lot about like not even being a good parent, being a perfect parent, like, and you’re just saturated with like all these articles about like if you do this thing which like your parents did for you and their parents are really like people have been doing for the kids for thousands of years.”

Marcos now strives for a balance between the primordial anxiety he feels for his offspring, one exacerbated by a culture that takes this concern to extreme places, and being realistic: “on one hand it’s very easy intellectually to be like, that’s ridiculous. like that’s fine. Like millions of billions of children have grown up doing that and they’re all fine. Like it can’t be that bad. But then like, there’s also this like weird nagging voice in your head. It’s like, well, what if?”

Fatherhood, unlike Marcos’ other expenditures, has high stakes, bigger risks, and more substantial neurochemical effects. It is not a skill one can achieve mastery in, like woodworking. Unlike working towards a Ph.D., there is no one to turn to who has a firm solid grasp of what is right. Perhaps this is the reason that Marcos is very much still in the business of figuring things out. Only you get the sense that despite all its difficulties there is nothing else he would rather be doing.